The Sawatch Range is home to the highest concentration of 14ers in the state of Colorado.
Colorado's Sawatch Mountain Range is home to the highest concentration of 14ers in the state! The Sawatch Range boasts 15 peaks over 14,000 feet, including Mount Elbert, the tallest mountain in Colorado at 14,440 feet above sea level. The range also forms the Continental Divide, splitting the watersheds of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This long line of vaulted peaks is, objectively, one of the largest and most majestic collections of mountains in the country, and indeed, the world.
Rubbly, scree-filled summits characterize the peaks of the Sawatch. Unlike other mountain ranges in Colorado that offer aesthetic rock fins and slabs of uplifted granite to climb, the surface of the mountains in the Sawatch are generally loose and shifting, with rocks tumbling around you as you climb and dirt shifting below your feet.
The loose soil and stacked rocks don't make the region any less beautiful, though: the scenery from the tallest mountains in the country is to die for. As you near (and reach) the summit of one of these mountains, you'll enjoy a sweeping panorama of Rocky Mountain peaks spread around you in all directions. Unlike some of the Front Range 14ers that offer views of flat plains, the views from the Sawatch peaks consist of mountains, mountains, and more mountains as far as the eye can see.
The high concentration of 14ers in the Sawatch Range led to the creation of the Nolan's 14 trail running challenge. Nolan's 14 "is a run over the 14 summits over 14,000 ft. in Colorado's Sawatch Range, from Mt. Massive to Mt. Shavano in either direction," according to MattMahoney.net. "You can choose your own route between summits, but the most practical routes have been estimated to be 88 to 106 miles with 44,000 ft. of climb. Cutoff is 60 hours to the last summit," he continues. The only Sawatch summit left out of the challenge is Mount of the Holy Cross. Nolan's 14 is now regarded as one of the most difficult trail running challenges in the world, and as such, has gained a true cult following.
Whether you choose to run 14 of the 15 peaks in a 60-hour window or instead, merely opt to climb one or two at a time like a sane person, the soaring mountains of the Sawatch Range will inspire you with their majesty and rugged beauty!